2Cloth of gold, Woven cone
These attractive univalve molluscs are highly valued by shell collectors. They usually grow to around 10cm in length and have very distinguished colours and patterns on their shells.
At the narrow end of the shell they have an extendable proboscis. Using this proboscis they can jab a minute harpoon with 1 to 20 radular teeth penetrating skin to inject venom to immobilise their victim.
The toxins vary between different species. The fish-eating cone shells are probably the only ones dangerous to humans.
Scientists have identified more than 60,000 species of univalves.
The cone shell inhabits shallow water, reefs, ponds and rubble and as it often burrows under the sand, its siphon that it uses to suck in water for respiration may be the only thing visible.
Around the Australian coastline cone shells are found throughout the tropical regions and on the eastern and western coasts generally south to about latitude 30oS.
Other cone shells of the Indo-Pacific region
Cruising the Coral Coast, Alan Lucas
Guide to Beach and Water Safety, Kenneth Bullock
16 March 2010